by Terry Gault
I admire Scott Berkun. Let me say that right upfront. His book, Confessions of a Public Speaker is a terrific read with lots of valuable tips, techniques, and ideas for speakers and presenters. And anyone who can get their book published by O’Reilly Media deserves notice, especially if the book is focused on a ‘soft’ skill (I hate that phrase, BTW, as presenting and public speaking are actually quite HARD).
But I think Berkun has missed the point. http://www.scottberkun.com/blog/2012/why-i-hate-prezi/
He’s right that focusing on slide transitions is a poor use of your time in building a good presentation. My take is that Berkun has focused on only one aspect of Prezi and has missed the Big Picture.
Which is ironic because to me THAT is the fundamental difference between PowerPoint and Prezi – that Prezi requires that you think about the Big Picture while PowerPoint indulges the tendency to recycle and repurpose existing slides without truly thinking about the Big Picture.
I also agree that Prezi’s marketing team is also missing the point by focusing too much on zooming, etc in their messaging.
My experience is that Prezi forces me to think through my entire presentation holistically before I begin to construct my presentation at all.
The first decision I need to make when it’s time to construct a Prezi is this: What is my underlying message? I call it the Main Takeaway Sentence as in, if you asked an audience member, “What did you takeaway from the presentation?’ they would reply with my Main Takeaway Sentence or a reasonable facsimile. Then I need to ask: What is the central or recurring theme of my presentation? I am confronted with that question because my ‘Home’ screen or canvas needs to express that theme visually with a Big Picture right up front.
When audience members walk into our workshops, they will see a screen that should begin to communicate our message by touching on the central theme of the workshop or presentation.
The next decisions I have to make are editorial and targeting decisions:
- What do I need to cover in my talk?
- How long do I have to cover it?
- Who is my target audience? What are their hot buttons – dreams, concerns, etc?
I MUST give these thought before I begin the process of constructing a Prezi.
Unlike PowerPoint which easily allows the repurposing of existing slides, Prezi’s really need to be built from the ground up. That does not mean that I cannot use imagery, video or text that I have not already used for another presentation. It simply means that I cannot copy and paste existing content from another Prezi. I really need to start from scratch.
It strikes me as ironic that Berkun missed this Big Picture point about Prezi. In fact, it strikes me that the theme of the piece is written from a PowerPoint-centric perspective. It’s not written from Beginner’s Mind – examining Prezi without the shadow of PowerPoint looming in the background.
PowerPoint lacks this fundamental capability to transition back and forth between the Big Picture and components of that Big Picture – from the macro to the micro and back to the macro.
Reading the comments on the piece, you will see that:
- Carey addresses “the ability to present things visually in a manner that actually represents the concept being presented. In other words, items/words can be placed in relationship to others in a way that shows their connections.” This is a very important point.
- Drew Banks, Prezi’s head of marketing, chimes in with “As an artist/architect who often presents at conferences on his large urban installations, Adam Somlai-Fischer originally developed Prezi so that he could show the audience a big-picture overview of his work and then zoom into the details.”
These two are echoing my observations about Prezi.
Nonetheless, Berkun’s piece is an important addition to the conversation about presentation tools and well worth reading. What is your view?
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